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Rescue: The Humane Response

Since 1975, we've rescued more than 23,000 marine mammals along 600 miles of California coastline and the Big Island of Hawai’i. Thanks to people like you who call our rescue hotlines more than 10,000 times per year, we're able to provide a humane response to these animals that otherwise may not have a chance at survival. With a team of dedicated staff and more than 1,300 volunteers, no other organization in the world treats the extraordinary number and variety of marine mammal species and medical conditions that we do with the goal of returning them back to their ocean homes.

Rescue Operations:

The number of animals we rescue varies by season and year, but we've seen an ongoing increase since we began our work more than 40 years ago. Each year, we respond to up to 1,800 marine mammals that are malnourished, prematurely separated from their mothers, shark bite victims, entangled in ocean trash, suffering from diseases such as domoic acid poisoning, cancer or leptospirosis, or sadly, wounded by gunshot. Some of these animals suffer from a combination of these issues.

Our rescue teams are volunteers who are specially trained in responding to seals, sea lions, sea otters, dolphins and more, in a variety of locations from beaches to docks to rocky shores.

When an animal is reported, a team is dispatched as quickly as possible to assess the situation and rescue the animal if appropriate, freeing it from debris or other entanglements, and providing any necessary first aid. When possible, rescued animals may be returned to their habitat immediately. Sick, injured or orphaned animals needing care are brought to our full-service veterinary hospital in Sausalito for treatment.

We're a member of the Marine Mammal Health and Stranding Response Program, the NOAA Fisheries national stranding network mandated by the federal government. This network includes over 400 nonprofit organizations, scientific institutions, schools and universities, aquariums, zoos and government agencies. Only about 40 of these agencies, like The Marine Mammal Center, are responsible for rehabilitation of marine mammals or sea turtles.

We’re also a leading first responder to several marine mammal species considered to be endangered or threatened and are dedicated to helping save them from extinction.

How You Can Help:

Our rescues rely heavily on volunteers whom we train to assess the situation, aid the animals (including administering emergency care) and transporting them if in need of further rehabilitative care. We're always in need of volunteers – find out how you could join our efforts. Much rescue work requires special training, but all volunteers can participate in releases or transporting animals. There is something for everyone to do!


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